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Top Online Veterinary Schools

The world of medicine is advancing rapidly and increasing medical technology requires ever greater specialization with it, even in the world of veterinary science. Today, when your pet gets sick the veterinarian has just as many options to help treat it as doctors have for humans. Kidney transplants, casts, chemo and radiation therapy for cancer, cataract removal and general surgery are all available from modern veterinarians. However, this specialization comes at a cost and the only 28 accredited veterinary programs in the U.S. are not able to produce enough graduates to keep up with demand. Fortunately, much of the work previously done by veterinarians can now be done by veterinary technologists and technicians with the appropriate amount of hands-on training.

Veterinary technicians and technologists are not veterinarians. While they can perform the day-to-day tasks of veterinary care while practicing under a registered veterinarian, they have not gone through a graduate veterinary course and cannot practice animal health care alone. Check ups, administering medicine and vaccines, taking x-rays, running laboratory tests and even providing emergency care to injured animals are all possible for a veterinary technician, and sometimes their responsibility, but only if they are practicing under a registered veterinarian..

Education in veterinary science can come in two forms, an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. These programs require 2-4 years of education depending on the degree and, as with all health care professions, attendance of on-site practicums in a local animal clinic, hospital or on a veterinary school campus. Veterinary training can include classes in animal nursing, surgery techniques, breeding and various animal health care topics such as radiology.

Currently, the American Veterinary Medical Association has accredited 203 veterinary assistant programs throughout the country; nine of the programs provide distance learning options. Online veterinary assistant schools are designed to provide their students with training and education in animal care, preparation for national certification to meet state licensing requirements and for work in veterinary positions in clinics, laboratories and zoos.

Below are some of the veterinary focuses available from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

Veterinary Technician

Veterinary technicians usually have an associate degree in veterinary technology and most are employed in small animal clinics or private practices. The veterinary technician is often the face pet-owners see when getting their pet care. Technicians perform teeth cleaning, immunizations, and laboratory tests on blood and other animal samples as well as anesthesia and emergency care. They may also explain to pet owners what the procedures will be, how to administer medicine and care for their recovering pet.

Veterinary technician students are often required to take classes such as writing, math and public speaking in addition to specific veterinary classes such as animal restraint and companion animal breeds. Graduates are qualified to apply for a state license and to accept positions in private veterinary practices, animal clinics and hospitals if offered. For technicians working in the laboratory, certification as a Laboratory Animal Technician (LAT) is available from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). Again, as with all medical professions, all degrees and certifications require on-site experience through internships or courses.

Most states and Canada use the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTN) as certification for practicing as a veterinary technician or technologist. Requirements for the certification include graduation from an AVMA accredited veterinary program and successful completion of the 200-question exam. Focuses of the exam include diagnostic imaging, laboratory procedures and dentistry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov, 2012), the national median veterinary technician and technologist salary was $30,140 per year in May, 2011. However, the job outlook for technicians is expected to be “excellent” (BLS.gov, 2012) and employment growth is expected to exceed 50 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is a higher rate of growth than comparable human health care jobs and professions. Most growth is expected to be in rural areas.

Veterinary Technologist

The titles of veterinary technologist and technician are not interchangeable. While technologists may perform similar tasks as a technician, technologists have a higher level of education, have gone through more training and are responsible for more duties in the practice or laboratory. Additionally, according to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), technologists are more often employed in diagnostic or research-related laboratories. Depending on the state, veterinary technologists may also be required to seek registration or licensing if employed in a private practice.

Veterinary technologists specialize in care for small animals such as mice, rats, pigs and birds but also some farm animals like sheep. Further specialization in marine animals or wild animals is available as well as technology specializations in anesthesia and critical care.

Classes for a veterinary technologist include instruction in radiology, animal diseases, surgical nursing, clinical pathology in addition to training in a medical laboratory. Technologists are also required to complete a clinical practicum and an externship and classes on animal nutrition and organic chemistry prior to graduations. There are 22 AVMA accredited programs in the U.S. which award a bachelor’s of science in veterinary technology upon completion. Of the nine AVMA accredited distance learning programs, only one provides a bachelor’s degree: Purdue University, the other eight offer only associate degrees.

Purdue University has noted that many of their distance learning students are already employed by a veterinarian and plan to continue working with them. The university also states that the program can be completed in 4-5 years in a part-time status. This time is comparable in credit hours to on-campus students. The distance learning program is accredited by the AVMA and meets the same standards as the university’s campus-based degree.

Job outlook for technologists is the same as technicians (BLS.gov, 2012), meeting 52 percent growth from 2010 to 2020. The rapid growth of the profession is projected to be a result of an increase in public health, animal safety, and disease control programs and growth is expected to outpace the number of new graduates.

Learn more about accredited veterinary programs from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

The AVMA provides a list of all 203 accredited veterinary programs and the current accreditation status of each school. For students looking for the nine accredited distance learning schools, the AVMA also provides that list. Upon completion of an approved program, certification and licensure will be required to practice as either a veterinary technician or a veterinary technologist.

The American Association of Veterinary State Boards has a searchable list for licensure requirements for every state and Canada. The AVMA further provides a list of what technicians and technologist can and cannot do in each state following licensure. The AALAS offers three certifications for laboratory animal care; the requirements are listed on the association’s website.

Accredited Online Veterinary Technician Schools

The following eight schools are all but one of the schools accredited by the AVMA to provide veterinary education through distance learning and have been ranked, from data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, according to lowest faculty-student ratios and highest total enrollment for the 2010 academic year.

1. Purdue University-Main Campus
2. Moraine Park Technical College
3. San Juan College
4. Cedar Valley College
5. St Petersburg College
6. Jefferson State Community College
7. Blue Ridge Community College
8. Northern Virginia Community College
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